HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A litany of questions remained after the Pennsylvania legislature passed a resolution to effectively bring the commonwealth’s disaster declaration to an end.
Governor Tom Wolf and General Counsel Gregory G. Schwab took to the podium to address residents and the potential impact of ending the disaster declaration while also claiming that it is not something the legislature can do unilaterally. According to the General Assembly, their resolution ended the disaster declaration and state mandated business closures.
Gov. Wolf says the resolution must end up on his desk, giving him the option to veto it. However the assembly, per the terms of the resolution, only intends to deliver a copy to the secretary of the commonwealth, circumventing the governor’s ability to veto it.
When asked by a reporter who Pennsylvania should listen to, the governor responded “me.”
This confusion is leading to a legal battle, funded by taxpayers for which there is no time frame. However, the governor says the resolution goes against the Pennsylvania constitution and expects a court to rule in his favor. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania GOP says it is the governor’s order which is unconstitutional.
“The Governor will be statutorily required to issue an order terminating the declaration in compliance with section 7301 if the House passes the resolution as adopted by the Senate,” wrote Senate GOP spokesperson Jennifer Kocher on Twitter. “He has no discretion in this matter.”
According to Gov. Wolf, ending the March 6 disaster declaration is a power he holds and ending it now would harm the state’s response to the pandemic as well as end protections for businesses. Wolf also states that the resolution, if it did go into effect, would not end the independent orders issued by Secretary of Health Dr. Levine which sets guidelines for business regulations.
Instead, Gov. Wolf says ending the disaster declaration would make recieving unemployment more difficult for those without jobs, end utility assistance for families and potentially end federal funding for the state as well as other negative outcomes.
Read more about Governor Wolf’s response by clicking here.